Recalls Flat, But Upsurge Predicted When Regulators Focus on Infant Sleep Products

Stericycle Expert Solutions Releases Third Quarter Recall Index; Predicts Jump in Recalls as Regulators Turn Attention to New Product Categories

INDIANAPOLIS, Nov. 12, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- U.S. product recalls remained flat from the second to third quarter, but are soon likely to increase as regulators turn their attention to currently unregulated categories, according to the third quarter 2019 Recall Index released today by Stericycle Expert Solutions (NASDAQ: SRCL).

Pressure from lawmakers and consumer groups is mounting on federal agencies to get ahead of fast-moving issues regarding cybersecurity, food safety modernization, children's sleep products and cannabis, where regulation is currently unclear or uncertain.

For the Consumer Product Safety Commission, it's not just inclined sleepers but growing scrutiny on the entire infant sleep category. For the FDA, it's not just e-cigarettes, but the entire vaping supply chain – from tobacco alternatives to the practice of vaping cannabis or even vitamins and minerals.

"We're at a point in time when product offerings are so vast, innovation so rapid, and competition so fierce, that research and science isn't keeping up. It's a challenge that plagues nearly every industry we see," said Chris Harvey, director of recalls at Stericycle Expert Solutions.

Given how short-staffed the regulators are, it is impossible for them to keep track of everything. This empowers consumer advocacy organizations like Consumer Reports and Kids in Danger to continue their consumer product safety campaigns and launch new ones. On the drug and medical device side, you have Members of Congress propelling themselves into the debate and states creating their own rules and regulations.

"It's a dangerous mix for any company that finds itself in the middle of it all," added Harvey. "Companies and organizations need to be sensitive to the fact that, even where there is no clear regulatory standards or guidance, they may find themselves facing unbearable pressure from consumer groups, Congress, and the news media to announce a recall, change marketing strategies, issue consumer warnings, or even eliminate a product line entirely. How those decisions are made and communicated will ultimately determine the reputational impact on the company going forward."

As the Index and expert observers indicate, some "hot-button" industries can expect special regulatory scrutiny in the months to come.

Consumer Products
Consumer product recalls remained steady during the third quarter, and two more deaths were reported in connection with recalled products. Yet, the number of consumer product safety incidents is currently trending to be the lowest since 2004.

Watch out for more infant sleep product recalls as scrutiny expands beyond just inclined sleepers. This broadened category has the potential to lead to increased recall activity and incident reports in the fourth quarter as Members of Congress call for recalls and CPSC rulemaking.

cGMP deviations continue to plague the industry, causing 25 percent of pharmaceutical recalls and impacting more than 93 percent of all units. As long as the drug supply chain remains so complex, ensuring quality will remain a challenge. The ongoing NDMA issue, which has impacted a significant percentage of two product categories, is a textbook example.

Meanwhile, recalls are not out of the question for companies and organizations throughout the vaping supply chain. Just because we haven't seen any yet doesn't mean we won't.

Medical Device
Recalls are ongoing even though they are smaller and we hear less about them. Thanks to their connected nature, the fixes they require can happen nearly entirely without doctor or medical organization involvement.

We expect this will continue until one of two things happen: the fix requires more patient involvement or the device has a confirmed cybersecurity vulnerability.

Food & Beverage
Undeclared allergens were the most frequent cause of food recalls at both FDA and USDA, but in terms of units or pounds impacted, another different reason took the lead. Foreign material accounted for nearly 50 percent of FDA recalled units, while bacterial contamination caused about 31 percent of USDA recalled pounds.

When it comes to food, expect baby food and pet food to be in the hotseat as FDA examines safety concerns. On the USDA side, there's very likely a long tail associated with a major recall by a poultry supplier that will play out through the fourth quarter.

Automotive recalls continue to be the industry with the steadiest recall activity, consistently logging 180-220 recalls every quarter. But what's worrisome is the ongoing issues related to core safety components of a vehicle, such as airbags, seat belts, and brakes. In fact, service brakes accounted for more than one-third of all recalled units.

No change is expected in the volume of recalls, but auto retailers and rideshare companies are very likely going to face increasing pressure as NHTSA tries to reduce the number of cars with open recalls on the road.

The full Q3 2019 Recall Index - with additional data, predictions, and analysis - is available at

About the Stericycle Recall Index 
The Stericycle Recall Index is the only report that aggregates and tracks recall data to help manufacturers and other industry stakeholders navigate the regulatory environment and identify trends. Each quarter Stericycle analyzes data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the FDA, and the USDA. For more information, please visit

About Stericycle
Stericycle, Inc., (Nasdaq: SRCL) is a U.S. based business-to-business services company and leading provider of compliance-based solutions that protect people and brands, promote health and safeguard the environment. Stericycle serves more than one million customers in all 50 U.S. states and 20 countries worldwide with solutions for regulated waste management, secure information destruction, compliance, customer contact, and brand protection.  For more information about Stericycle, please visit

About Stericycle Expert Solutions™
Stericycle Expert Solutions™ is the industry leader in managing automotive, consumer product, pharmaceutical, medical device, juvenile product, and food and beverage recalls. Expert Solutions streamlines the entire product recall process and manages Notification & Response, Processing & Tracking, and Compliance & Reporting for leading global companies. For more information, visit

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